Extreme Outback's New "Big Red Plus" Air Compressor

A New Portable Air Compressor Short Cuts
by: Randy L. Wheeler

Big Red Air Compressor

Extreme Outback Product's Big Red Plus Air Compressor.  Small on size but BIG on performance.

Ever venture onto a trail and wish you could get more traction from your tires?   Most of us can answer "Yes." But the best way to get better traction from your tire is to reduce the air pressure, creating a larger surface area.   If you don't have an on-board air compressor, you're more than likely to leave your tires at street pressure or reduce the pressure a measly bit. Why?  Because you don't have a way to inflate your tires at end of the trail.  The solution of course is a portable, 12 volt air compressor. A portable air compressor is also useful on the trail if you lose a tire bead.  A good air compressor allows you to reseat the bead and be on your way.

Many varieties of 12 volt air compressors are available, such as the little electric "emergency" compressors, or the common QuickAir and ARB pumps.  Quite a few people even convert air conditioning pumps using salvaged parts and pumps.  The little "emergency" compressor will eventually inflate your tire, but by the time you are done, your wheel'n buddies will be long gone. The downside to the converted air conditioning pumps is that they often require customized brackets, pulleys, and belts.

If you are looking for a rugged, reliable, and portable air compressor, check out the new Big Red Plus Air Compressor from Extreme Outback Products of Vacaville, California. This pump is small in size, but BIG on performance.

The Big Red Plus Compressor

The 12 volt compressor features a 1/5 horsepower permanent magnet electric motor, 20 amp full load draw, thermal overload shutdown protection, and sealed motor and pump for maximum protection in dusty or wet environments. The unit is 215 mm (L) x 150 mm (H) x 102 mm (W) and weighs only 4.85 pounds. Other specifications include:

Maximum restart pressure of 210 psi Manufactured by Thomas Industries
Steel mounting brackets and vibration isolators 2-inch two stage serviceable filter
Permanently lubricated ball bearings Fully sealed motor and pump
Stainless steel valves Teflon-compound piston rings
Thermal protector - auto reset 160 psi maximum pressure
All-Metal Construction 20 amps draw at 160 psi

Because of its small size, the compressor easily hard-mounts in the engine compartment of most off-road vehicles.  If you don't want to hard mount this unit, it also comes as a complete kit including quick release brass fittings, a 25' polyurethane air hose, waterproof on/off switch, 10' of heavy gauge battery cables with oversized clamps included, and an air pressure switch (85 psi on / 105 psi off).  This kit comes in a military "Fat Fifty" steel ammo can with waterproof o-ring seals.

Big Red Air Compressor

Big Red Air Compressor Big Red Air Compressor Big Red Air Compressor
The small size of this unit will fit in most engine compartments Brass fittings and a 105 psi pressure switch ensure reliable operation Externally routed air line The 2-inch serviceable filter and sealed casing will provide years of trouble free operation

I opted to mount the compressor under my hood using the location previously occupied by the Wrangler YJ's stock scissor jack and lug wrench.  This location provides a perfect mounting platform and is high enough to keep the compressor out of harms way, yet easily accessible.  The compressor can be mounted vertically, horizontally, or even upside down.  Mounting the compressor in this location allowed me to run the power leads directly to the battery using heavy 10 gauge wire and a 30-amp switch with an in-line 25-amp fuse.  I recommend wiring the on/off switch through a relay, though.  The unit is also grounded to the frame. I routed the air line down the inside of the fenderwell and out through the grill, then attached it to the frame using a rubber hose clamp.  This configuration allows me to hook up my air line from outside of the engine compartment.


With the engine running at idle speed, I switched the QuickAir I compressor on and measured the time it took to inflate a 32x11.5x15-in BFG M/T from 8 to 30 psi. On average, the QuickAir I compressor took about 4 1/2 minutes. In contrast, the Big Red compressor inflated a 33x12.5x15-in BFG M/T from 8 to 28 psi in just under 3 minutes!  The outside air temperature was about 62 degrees Fahrenheit.

Air Compressor Comparisons

The following table compares the Big Red Plus compressor with two of the most common air compressors on the market, the QuickAir I, and QuickAir 2.

Comparison of Specifications


Big Red Plus QuickAir I QuickAir 2
PSI Flow Rate(CFM) Flow Rate(CFM) Flow Rate(CFM)
0 1.38 1.31 2.18
10 1.25 no data listed no data listed
20 1.12 1.06 1.76
35 0.95 no data listed no data listed
40 no data listed 0.81 1.45
These figures are drawn from the respective manufacturer's documents.


Optional Accessories

Pressure gauge
Adjustable Pressure relief valve
Pressure Switch
Portable kit in tool box
Steel mounting box
Air reservoir

I think every off-road adventurer should carry an on-board air compressor. It will give you peace of mind knowing that you can inflate your tires after a day on the trail.

I used to run a QuickAir I compressor in my 1991 Jeep Wrangler and it worked great for many years, but it took quite a long time to inflate a 32-inch tire. I was also concerned about the longevity of the pump since it was mounted inside the engine compartment where it was subjected to high temperatures and potential water intrusion.  The quality and construction the new Big Red Plus air compressor is simply outstanding. The compressor is made in America to ISO9000 standards.  The motor is fully sealed using Viton o-ring seals and features an integrated thermal protector and auto-reset.  The unit draws only 20 amps at 160 psi.


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